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Fair Food for the Climate

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Sustainability matters, also when it comes to grocery shopping. As food is a commodity many people consume on daily basis, the impact of your choices is significant, even if at time the contribution might seem small.

By choosing for instance fair trade, organically grown or locally produced products, your shopping preferences make a difference; there is no bullet-proof recipe or universal rules-of-thumb, but learning about the production and transport chains in your country will help you to shift to a more sustainable shopping behavior.

The production and trade of food and beverage products entail many unfair aspects, and this is why organizations, such as the international campaign organization Fairfood and the Fairtrade foundation, campaign to improve the working conditions for people across the globe, to put an end to environmentally damaging practices and to make trade sustainable.

Social Aspect

Food production has an impact on social, environmental and economic issues. The economic issues are often at the root of the social and environmental damage that food production can cause, as most of the measurements are made in terms of money and trade. The aim of having the maximum amount of goods for the minimum cost, can lead to practices that distort the market, and force people to work for unreasonable hours in unhealthy working conditions – already at a very young age.

Impact on the environment

When a market is vulnerable, the food producers have to compete by lowering their production costs through the use of methods that pollute the air, the waters and the soil, and the actions taken are usually harmful for the natural biodiversity. Goods are often transported for long journeys to be cleaned, chopped, packaged, and finally sold. Your food might have traveled a couple of times around the world before reaching your dinner table.

As the unsustainable use of cultivated land is associated with a range of environmental problems, such as land erosion, mineral depletion, desertification, deforestation, acidification, these problems pose a direct threat to food security and the ecosystem. The Fairtrade system, for example, includes environmental standards as part of producer certification. The standard requires producers to work to protect the natural environment and make environmental protection a part of farm management. Producers are also encouraged to minimize the use of energy, especially energy from non-renewable sources.

To find out more how you can make a difference with your consumer choices, visit :

Copyright, United Nations, UNRIC, 2009. All rights reserved.